Players in every sport put up with certain levels of hatred. In college basketball, however, this malice can reach a level other leagues don’t experience. Every few years, it seems like a new player does something that makes everyone but his team’s fans hate him.
This level of hatred can last for years, even decades, and it will haunt them for the rest of their lives. This year, Wisconsin guard Brad Davison makes a compelling case for the most hated player in college basketball. As such, the junior reminds college hoops fans of past notorious villains.
Who is Brad Davison?
Davison is not an NBA prospect nor is he is recognized due to a connection with another well-known player or celebrity. He averages a decent nine points per game and four rebounds. But nothing about his game pops out to viewers. A starter for most of his three years with Wisconsin, his scoring has dropped every season.
Davison is not a bad player, but he’s also not an athlete you’ll find on a highlight reel. Had he not built a reputation as a villain, he may not be a known commodity outside the state of Wisconsin. But with his reputation, Davison’s name is drenched in infamy.
Why do people hate Brad Davison?
Several things can give a player a bad reputation. Some factors are out of a player’s control or blown out of proportion based on a transgression. In three years at Wisconsin, Davison has done everything in his power to earn his reputation. While some generously call his antics a way to win at any cost, most call his moves cheap and dirty.
Davison is unique in his ability to enrage both opponents and teammates. In fact, SB Nation compiled the greatest hits of the Minnesota native’s dirtiest, most frustrating moments. During a recent game against Iowa, Davison hit opponent Connor McCaffery in the crotch with 32 seconds left in the game.
The ensuing technical foul cost Wisconsin a shot at tying up or winning the game. Davison was also suspended one game for his actions. This exposes a key element of Davison’s antics. They aren’t always done to help the team. Sometimes, they seem like classic schoolyard bullying.
Davison has hit other players in the crotch before, tried to trip them on multiple occasions, and flopped at a game’s end against Western Kentucky and helped win Wisconsin the game. He seems to exist for one reason — to make others mad. In doing so, he joins a group of villains in the history of men’s college basketball.
Welcome to the legion of villains
Villains can be future NBA players who bring the same villainous persona to the pros, or they can be burnouts only known for college basketball skills. Most recently, Grayson Allen successfully transitioned from a hated Duke athlete to a loathed NBA player, now on his second team.
Allen might not be the most hated player in Duke’s history, however. former Duke star Christian Laettner was one of the best college players in the country. Unfortunately, his dirty antics and feisty persona made him so hated that ESPN made a documentary about it two decades later.
Davison will likely go the way of Henderson. He simply isn’t good enough for an NBA roster. If he’s okay with living in infamy for the rest of his career, he’s been a success story. However, if he does not want to go down as the cheap player from Wisconsin, he might want to think about the way his actions affect the game moving forward.
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